Theme 2: Popular Beliefs and Misconceptions—All Sides
The Vietnam War Lesson Guide
Lessons will explore the degree of understanding and the many misunderstandings Americans have about Vietnam, it’s people and it’s struggles. What were the understandings and misunderstandings of the nature of the enemy? What were the major beliefs on all sides about what type of war was being waged? A civil war or a war of liberation or a war to promote or curtail communism? How do those who lived through the Vietnam Era view that crucial period in American history today? What perceptions do today’s students have regarding the Vietnam War Era? Upon what are these perceptions based?
- How did preconceptions and misunderstandings affect the Vietnamese and the United States war efforts?
- Why is it important for a nation to fully understand its advisories?
- Analysis of Early US Strategy: Myth and Reality—Students view selected video clips from The Vietnam War on the newly elected Kennedy administration and its sense of American exceptionalism. Students will record potential points of conflict and misunderstanding between the United States and the different military and political factions in Vietnam. Time period: 1960-1962 Video Clip:
- The Political Philosophy of Ho Chi Minh and US Foreign Policy—Students view selected video segments from The Vietnam War that address the history of Ho Chi Minh’s political activity. Then, they will read selections of Ho Chi Minh’s writings. Students will examine Ho’s motivations and goals and compare those with the goals of the United States during the Cold War. Time period: 1960-1962 Video Clips:
- The Diem Regime and US Misperceptions—Students view selected video segments from The Vietnam War on American impressions of Ngo Dinh Diem, president of South Vietnam after the French departure. They will compare American policy makers’ perceptions of these situations with the reality of the Diem regime. Time period: 1961-1962 Video Clips:
- The Battle of Ap Bac - Students will view a selected video segment from The Vietnam War that describes the battle of Ap Bac. Students will follow the progress and outcome of the battle and evaluate the effectiveness of the US military advisors’ work with the ARVN. Time period: 1961-1963